Things to do in San Francisco: Coit Tower

Visiting Coit Tower in San Francisco

A Brief History of Coit Tower

Perched atop Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower stands as a proud symbol of San Francisco’s vibrant history. Built in 1933, this 210-foot tower was constructed with funds bequeathed by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a wealthy socialite and patron of the city’s firefighters. Coit left one-third of her estate “for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the city I have always loved.” The result was this Art Deco tower, designed by architects Arthur Brown, Jr., and Henry Howard, which offers panoramic views of San Francisco and the Bay.

The Significance of Coit Tower

Coit Tower’s significance extends beyond its striking architecture. It’s also home to a series of fresco murals, painted in 1934 by local artists under the Public Works of Art Project. These murals offer a window into the social and political climate of the 1930s, depicting scenes of daily life in California during the Great Depression. The tower itself is a tribute to the firefighters of San Francisco, as Lillie Hitchcock Coit was a lifelong supporter of the city’s fire brigade, often riding along with them to fires.

Visiting Coit Tower

A visit to Coit Tower is more than just an opportunity to admire its architectural beauty. It’s a journey through San Francisco’s past. The tower is accessible by car, public transport, or the famous Filbert Steps, which offer a scenic route through lush gardens and past charming homes. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy breathtaking 360-degree views of the city, including landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Bay Bridge.

Inside, guided tours are available to explore the murals, which have been carefully restored to their original splendor. These tours provide insight into the stories behind the murals and the artists who created them.

Why Coit Tower Is a Must-See

Coit Tower is more than just a picturesque landmark; it’s a testament to San Francisco’s resilience and artistic heritage. Its location on Telegraph Hill makes it a perfect spot for photographers and sightseers alike. The tower’s history as a monument to the city’s firefighters adds a layer of cultural significance, making it a poignant reminder of the community spirit that defines San Francisco.

Coit Tower is not just an iconic structure but a portal to the rich tapestry of San Francisco’s history. Its stunning views, significant artwork, and historical importance make it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the heart and soul of this unique city.


Coit Tower
1 Telegraph Hill Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94133


(Subject to change. Visit the official website for updates)
Monday: 10AM to 5PM
Tuesday: 10AM to 5PM
Wednesday: 10AM to 5PM
Thursday: 10AM to 5PM
Friday: 10AM to 5PM
Saturday: 10AM to 5PM
Sunday: 10AM to 5PM

Details about Coit Tower:

Height: Coit Tower stands at 210 feet
Open Date: 10/8/1933
Built By (Architects): Lillie Hitchcock Coit and Arthur Brown Jr.
Number of Steps to the Top: 234 Steps

Top 5 Awesome Things to See at Coit Tower

Panoramic City and Bay Views:

At the top of Coit Tower, visitors are treated to spectacular 360-degree views of San Francisco and its surroundings. From this vantage point, you can see iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, the Bay Bridge, and the sprawling cityscape.

Why It’s Awesome: This breathtaking view offers a unique perspective of the city and its geographical layout, making it a photographer’s paradise and a memorable experience for all visitors.

View from Coit Tower
View from Coit Tower

Historic Murals:

Inside Coit Tower, the walls are adorned with vibrant fresco murals. Painted in 1934 by artists from the Public Works of Art Project, these murals depict various aspects of life in California during the Great Depression, including urban and rural scenes, laborers, and social issues of the era.

Why It’s Awesome: These murals are not only stunning works of art but also provide a fascinating glimpse into the social history of San Francisco and the United States, reflecting the artistic and political climate of the 1930s.

Art Deco Architecture:

Coit Tower itself is an architectural marvel. Designed in the Art Deco style, it stands out with its simple yet elegant lines and distinctive form, making it one of the most recognizable silhouettes in San Francisco’s skyline.

Why It’s Awesome: The tower’s design is a perfect representation of the Art Deco movement, popular in the 1920s and 1930s, offering a glimpse into the architectural trends of that era.

Lillie Hitchcock Coit’s Tribute:

The tower is a tribute to the firefighters of San Francisco, funded by Lillie Hitchcock Coit, a local philanthropist known for her support of the city’s fire brigade.

Why It’s Awesome: This connection adds a layer of depth to the tower’s history, symbolizing the city’s resilience and community spirit. It honors the legacy of Coit and her dedication to the city’s firefighters.

The Filbert Steps:

For those who choose to walk to Coit Tower, the Filbert Steps offer a scenic and invigorating route. This pathway winds through Telegraph Hill’s lush gardens and past quaint cottages, offering a charming experience.

Why It’s Awesome: The journey through the Filbert Steps is like stepping into a hidden world within the city. It’s a serene escape that showcases the natural beauty and the quieter, more enchanting side of San Francisco.

Visiting Coit Tower is an experience that combines stunning views, rich history, artistic expression, and architectural beauty, making it a must-visit destination in San Francisco.